Individual differences in the effects of chronic prazosin hydrochloride treatment on hippocampal mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid receptors


Dr Stefania Maccari, 2Perinatal Stress Team, as above.


The aim of this study was to investigate the noradrenergic regulation of mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs) and glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) in high responder (HR) and low responder (LR) male rats, an animal model of individual differences in hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis activity and vulnerability to drugs of abuse. The effects of a chronic treatment with the noradrenergic α1 antagonist (1-[4-amino-6,7-dimethoxy-2-quinazolinyl]-4-[2-furanylcarbonyl] piperazine) hydrochloride (prazosin) (0.5 mg/kg, i.p., 35 days) were assessed on stress-induced corticosterone (CORT) secretion and on hippocampal MRs and GRs in adrenally intact rats. In order to ascertain whether the effects of chronic prazosin treatment on hippocampal MRs and GRs were direct or indirect, through prazosin-induced CORT secretion, we also assessed the effects of the same treatment on adrenalectomized rats with CORT substitutive therapy. When compared with LR rats, HR rats exhibited a delayed return to the basal level of CORT following acute restraint stress; this was associated with a lower binding of MRs and GRs in HR rats than in LR rats. Chronic prazosin treatment had no effect in HR animals but markedly reduced hippocampal MRs and GRs, and increased stress-induced CORT secretion in LR rats. In LR adrenalectomized rats, prazosin reduced hipppocampal MRs but did not change GRs. Our results provide evidence of a differential regulation by noradrenaline of hippocampal MRs and GRs in HR and LR rats. These data could have clinical implications in terms of individual differences in the resistance to antidepressant treatments and individual differences in drug abuse.